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When the Internet Is More Real Than Reality

By Guy Creese | June 14, 2012 | 0 Comments

I had a bureaucratic adventure today — I went to the local Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles to renew my license. I’d been there two days before to pick up the paperwork, and had asked the greeter, “So what time does the Registry open?” “9 AM.”

I got there at 8:50 today, waited around with about a dozen people, and then got miffed when the doors didn’t open at 9:00. Eventually, a Registry road tester walked by and announced, “It doesn’t open until 10 on Thursdays.” In unison, about three quarters of the people said, “But that isn’t what it says on the Registry web site!” And as people strolled up later, that’s also what they said: “That isn’t what it says on the web site.” The cross-section was quite striking — a few teenagers, an oldster or two, a construction worker, some housewives, a couple of salesmen in suits, and so on. Fifteen years ago, only high tech folks would have checked the Internet — and the RMV probably didn’t have a web site. Today, virtually everyone was depending on the web to tell them when to turn up. Too bad it didn’t match reality.

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